This blog post originally appeared on RealMoney Silver on Feb. 17 at 8:59 a.m. EST.

"I hate to say this, but this place is getting to me. I think I'm getting the Fear."

-- Dr. Gonzo, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

It has been several months since I have published a lengthy assessment of where we stand (and in what direction we might be going) in the economy and in the stock market. The intention of today's exercise is to lay out my baseline expectations for 2009, so please excuse the length. (For the abridged version, go to the last six words at the end of this column.)

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was a novel written by Hunter S. Thompson that originally appeared as a two-part series in Rolling Stone magazine in 1971. Twenty-seven years later, it was adapted into a movie starring Academy Award winners Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro.

Though initially criticized, the book has become required reading for students of American literature. Rolling Stone magazine's literary critic, Mikal Gilmore, wrote that the book "peers into the best and worst mysteries of the American heart" and that the author "sought to understand how the American dream had turned a gun on itself." The critic went on to write that "the fear and loathing Hunter S. Thompson was writing about -- a dread of both interior demons and the psychic landscape of the nation around him -- wasn't merely his own; he was also giving voice to the mind-set of a generation that had held high ideals and was now crashing hard against the walls of American reality."

It all sounds familiar, doesn't it?

The "wave speech" at the end of Thompson's eighth chapter is considered by many to have most completely captured the hippie zeitgeist of the 1960s. It is a metaphor for our economic state as well.

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